A Love Story

This is the story of Jon and I, so far. I had written it on my old blog while I was waiting for Livi to be born! I mostly just copied and pasted and adapted it for this page. It's kind of long. It was 7 parts on my old blog! Anyway, this is going to go in to Sofie's blog book and I thought I'd post it if anyone is actually interested :)

In the Beginning
I thought I would write about how this blogging, baby, and family thing all began. Before you stop reading because you think I'm going to be writing about the mechanics of it all (or maybe you'll keep reading in anticipation of that), I mean to say that I am going to tell you how Jon and I met and ended up getting married and starting a family...

Jon and I both decided, for various misled reasons, to start attending Columbia Bible College in September 2000. I ended up working part time in the food line-up checking students ID cards to see if they could eat the meals for free or had to pay. Consequently, I got to know most of the students, at least as acquaintances. Some how though, Jon failed to make an impression on me. To this day I still don't remember him at all from our first year.

In January 2001, Geoff came into our lives. Geoff transferred from Trinity to CBC for the Spring semester and ended up being Jon's roommate and eventually became his best friend (or hetero life mate, as they call each other). Geoff and I became friends on the urban mission trip that all the first year students went on in the beginning of January. We were on the same team. For the rest of the semester I ended up volunteering at Geoff's church with his youth group. Since Geoff and I were spending so much time together everyone, including us, expected us to hook up. Everyone thought we were dating, or should be dating. We even tried to like each other, really we did, but we just couldn't. I don't really know exactly why, he is a great guy, other than it was ordained in order for it not to be weird when Jon and I started liking each other. We were, and remain to this day, very good friends. Even through all that time we spent together that semester, I still don't remember Jon. Both of them ensure me that he was there, a lot.

I took the third semester off and returned as a commuter in January. Now I remember Jon! We had a few classes together and began hanging out in a threesome with Geoff. A couple people started making a few comments that Jon liked me, particularly after an incident where he walked quite a distance to my suite to come to a party I was hosting. I wasn't interested in him then and I didn't want to mess up the friendship we had with Geoff. Jon assures me that he was not interested in me then either. Jon did have a girlfriend at this time, back on the Island. I didn't know about her though. It was a very dysfunctional relationship and he never talked about her at school. He was merely trying to push himself to be more social and get to know me apart from my merely being Geoff's friend.

The next semester, September 2002, Jon and I started hanging out a lot more as friends without Geoff always with us. In early November, Jon and I decided to go to a worship night together at Chilliwack Alliance (yes, you read that right, Jon and I used to voluntarily go to evangelical worship services). It also happened to be my sisters' birthday party that night, so I suggested that we leave a little early to stop in at the party to grab some pizza for dinner. So, Jon met my family... the amazing part is that he met them before we were dating and still wanted to date me afterwards! Maggy was the ultimate test though. Other guys that I had brought home, since we had Maggy, were always uncomfortable and unsure how to treat her, but Jon had no qualms. He got right down to her level, looked her in the eye and talked to her like an adult. My mom knew, way before I did, that he was a keeper! She kind of freaked me out though and since I was still not interested in Jon, but I was suspecting that he might be in to me, I called up a friend and made her join us for the service so I wouldn't be alone with him. Jon still insists that he was not interested in me at this point either.

Neither of us are really sure exactly when we became interested in each other. It wasn't more than a week or two before we actually started dating though. On December 6th, CBC's Christmas Banquet was being held. Jon, Geoff and I decided to go together, but Geoff at the last possible minute bailed on us both. I thought it looked suspiciously like a set up the two of them had planned. So, I yelled at Geoff a little bit on the phone then nervously continued getting ready for what was now a date.

Jon showed up promptly with a rose in hand. He was so sweet. Since I wasn't quite ready, I graciously took the flower and returned to my room. Jon was just as nervous as I was and it didn't help that he periodically heard fits of giggles from my roommates and I while he was waiting. I was such a teenager. Of course we analyzed the roses coloring which was yellow that faded into pink on the ends of the peddles... friendship turning into a 'red' for love was our deduction of the message. I don't think Jon was thinking that deeply about it though.

We had a good time at the banquet. I don't remember us being overly uncomfortable. We went to a friends house for a movie afterwards, then returned to my place where he basically serenaded me on the guitar until 4 am. In all this time of sitting quietly, alone and with romantic music, Jon wimped out and couldn't get up the nerve to ask me out. The goodbye that evening was painfully awkward and uncomfortable. Jon was kicking himself in his mind and I didn't know whether he was expecting me to give him a goodnight kiss or hug or just a friendly goodbye. I opted for the awkward, friendly goodbye. He did call me the next day but I had already left for Chilliwack to work Saturday night, so he asked if I wanted to join him for coffee on Sunday. Of course I said yes, then over analyzed all the events and discussions from the night before with my mom.

Coffee on Sunday was so funny! I don't think he enjoys me laughing at this part of the story because he was really nervous and tried his best. Apparently, Geoff and him had practiced out a script of how Jon was going to ask me to be his girlfriend. I'm not sure how well Geoff did at impersonating me though. We got our Starbucks and sat down at a table. I don't remember if we did the small talk thing, probably a little bit. Finally, in one of the long, awkward silences, Jon had to do it....

"OK," Jon stated, staring intently at his coffee cup as he rubbed his hands together and put them abruptly on the table,
"OK, uh..." he rubbed his hands together again,
"OK, so, uh..." he put his hands back down on the table, still staring at the coffee cup.
"So, uh... OK," again he rubbed his hands together and put them on the table. This pattern continued for a little while until he could finally get a sentence together...
"So, we've been hanging out a lot lately, and I think we are having a good time together."
Then he stopped, looked at me expectantly and said nothing else. It was so cute. I smile just thinking about how nervous he was. After a few more awkward moments of silents I finally asked
"Are you asking me out?"
"Yes!" he answered adamantly. So, he never actually got the words out but I did, of course, accept. The rest of the evening was still a little awkward. I'd never become someones girlfriend before I had hooked up with them, so I didn't know if we were supposed to kiss or hold hands or what. Jon was just so relieved that the hard part was over, he wasn't thinking about what to do next.

So, December 8, 2002, Jon and I became and official couple. The first couple days of dating were a little awkward. We were a couple now but not much changed. We were still kind of just hanging out as friends. We did start hanging out just the two of us, without Geoff, but not much else changed. It took Jon four days to hold my hand for the first time. We were spending so much time together because classes were over, so it seemed like forever until he made his move.

Our first official date was really special to me. I don't remember the actual day of our date. Jon took me up to hear vespers at Westminster Abbey in Mission. I had never been before. The Abbey is absolutely gorgeous and remains one of our most favorite places to this day. Jon enjoyed teaching and explaining everything too me and I was fascinated. The monks are not the best singers but it was wonderful listening to them and engaging in such ancient traditions. Jon told me once that he could barely focus on the liturgy because he was intoxicated by my perfume... so romantic.

I was getting a little frustrated with the lack of physical contact in that first week, so I brought up the issue at dinner one evening. I am sometimes to assertive for my own good, but I do get issues dealt with! It was, understandably, a rather uncomfortable conversation. We figured out where each of us were coming from and, basically, I told him that I was comfortable with and wanted to encourage him to move a little faster than he was...

When he did hold my hand, finally on December 12, I remember thinking it was very sweet. We were walking from Meadow Woods, apartment buildings adjacent to the college where I was living, and he just slipped his hand into mine. I don't think he said anything. I just remember smiling.

December 14 was our first kiss. We used to stay awake all night, especially at the beginning, talking, cuddling, saying nothing and caressing or exploring each others hands. I loved those days. It is very rare to happen now. On this particular night, Jon had already decided that he wanted to kiss me but I was unaware of his plan and didn't make it very easy for him. We were cuddling on the couch and every time he would try to get into position I would cuddle down further into his chest and the couch. I realized something was up when he kissed my fingers. He hadn't done that before. It was either very late or very early when our lips finally met. I still remember how it felt. I won't go into complete detail but I will tell you that my stomach was filled with wonderful butterflies and I just melted. I think it remains, to this day, the best kiss I've ever received.

Things took off pretty quick after that point. We spent every free moment with each other for those first two weeks we were dating. Our good friend, Tom, was about to start working night shifts at his job. Since we were done school and just having a lot of fun, we decided to switch our sleeping schedules along with Tom and help him get ready to stay awake during the night. We spent a lot of fabulous, fun, and memorable hours at the Auto Mall's 24 hour Tim Horton's.

I Love You
Jon ended up going home for Christmas break for two weeks. It was hard to say goodbye. I dropped him off at the ferry and remember almost crying. I didn't really know why. I didn't understand why I was so upset. I'd never felt that attached to any male in my life! It was only two weeks. I felt silly. I think it probably scared me a little that I was feeling so attached after such a short time.

Jon was starting to feel things too. I was reminiscing through one of his journals the other day (he always let me read his writings, which I loved to do) and came across something that he had written when we first parted..."And then there is Katie. I cannot escape the smell of her perfume about me, her taste in my mouth. Her eyes follow me where ever I go. The disappointment in her eyes when she said 'two weeks' as I left... I think she may be the better half of me." Isn't he wonderful? I still love reading his writings, although he doesn't do nearly as much of it.

Jon and I were a very unlikely couple. He was not the kind of guy I was usually attracted to. Being apart from him left me with a lot of time to question myself, our relationship and give in to my insecurities and lack of trust in men. I had pretty much decided that I was going to break up with him as soon as possible. Jon will never let me forget that fact by the way! My best friend, Alana, convinced me that I should at least wait until I see him and do it in person. So, I waited. We had a few rather uncomfortable phone conversations over those two weeks. Jon is really horrible at carrying on a phone conversation to this day! I didn't help much either because I was going to dump him soon and didn't want to lead him on.

Upon Jon coming back to Abbotsford, he moved out of the dorms and into a suite in Meadow Woods. I must have been working or something because I didn't see him until after he had moved. Something must have changed in me that day. I wasn't dreading seeing him or planning out how I was going to break it off with him. I was excited. I couldn't wait. I was going nuts knowing that he was in town and I couldn't go to him. One of his room mates had made all the moving arrangements so Jon didn't actually know which suite he was moving in to and consequently couldn't let me know either.

The plan was that Jon was going to come and get me at my suite that evening, but there was some mis-communication and Jon thought that I had talked to Tom and knew which suite he was in and would come over when I got off work. So, I ended up basically pacing through my apartment, looking out the window every two minutes to see if I could see him coming up the path. It felt like I had to wait forever for him!

Finally, I saw him coming! My heart skipped a beat and I ran to check my hair or face or anything to calm my excited nerves and pass the last few seconds of waiting. He came up the stairs and I wrapped my arms around him! We hugged forever. I'm sure there was some kissing in there too... but I really remember the hug. Jon's always been a really great hugger. After that, there were no more thoughts of breaking up with him. Thinking back now, I believe that was the moment that I fell in love Jon, although I had no idea at the time.

We continued getting to know each other and started falling in love. Now, I had a weird, irrational, unrealistic expectation of what love was. I had never been in love and told myself that the only person I would ever fall in love with would be the person I would marry. The really unrealistic part of my plan was that I believed I would know that I was in love with him within the first two months of dating. If I wasn't in love with a guy within two months, continuing to date him was a waste of my time and his. I had never dated anyone longer than two months at a time and I had never told anyone that I was in love with them. I would never recommend this unreasonable expectation of love to anyone, but it worked for me. I know it started as a way to protect myself from becoming vulnerable to men. I've had to deal with a lot of issues that stem from Jim (my biological father) and was not willing to be a victim again, hence the over zealous dating scenario. God knew what I needed and when. He worked with my unrealistic expectations and helped me to learn to trust Jon.

Jon knew how strongly and seriously I took saying the "L" word and how big a commitment it was for me, even though he did think it was a little irrational. Basically, I felt that if I told him I loved him I was committing to marry him. Neither of us could deny, for much longer anyway, how strong our feelings were becoming. On January 10, during some "couch" time, Jon said it. He told me he loved me. I kind of freaked out. I didn't freak on Jon or anything. I just got quiet, probably said "thank you," or something as un-passionate as that, and retold him how big a deal that was for me. I didn't say it back and totally scared Jon. It totally ruined the mood of the evening and made us really awkward. I had so many emotions going through me at that moment. I was scared, excited, honored, amazed, freaked, etc... He, of course, was thinking he had messed things up and scared me off. He was frustrated that I hadn't said it back right away but didn't want me to say it unless I meant it.

The next few days were a little weird for both of us. I was trying to process things and deal with my own issues around the subject and Jon had decided to not talk about it at all and hopefully not freak me out anymore. I was in love with him, but I hadn't admitted it to myself. It took me a couple days to figure it out. So, three long days later, on January 13, I finally just blurted it out. It was completely unromantic but so special. We were in love!

Port Alberni
The next few months were incredible. We had so much fun. I lived in a suite about one hundred feet away from his so we ended up spending A LOT of time together. Neither of us seemed to mind though. We would stay up until all hours of the night cuddling, talking and doing other stuff dating couples do... I would fall asleep a lot of the time on Jon's lap with him just stroking my hair, (sometimes I would pretend I was asleep so he wouldn't stop playing with my hair). The Smoking Section, as Jon's place became affectionately known, turned in to a open house with a revolving door. I loved it. We had such good times there with some pretty amazing friends.

Because of the huge commitment level I associated with saying "I love you" Jon and I started talking about marriage really quickly. We even talked about it happening as early as that August (2003). In hind sight, we are both REALLY glad we did not marry that August. We were way to young and had some things we needed to figure out about ourselves and each other. When the semester came to an end, Jon was offered an internship as a youth leader at his home church in Port Alberni for the summer. We hated the idea of being apart for the whole summer. So, since I didn't really know his family because of the distance, we decided that I would go to Port Alberni with him. As long as I could get a job, I would stay the whole summer, if not I would stay only a month.

I was excited to get to know his family better, although very nervous at the same time. I was raised by a divorced, single mother in a very loud, opinionated, open, liberal home. Jon was the son of a pastor and raised in a very polite, quiet, conservative home. I had done things in my life that some pastors don't even know exist! They were incredible though. I can honestly say that his parents are the least judgmental pastoral couple I have ever met. I'm sure they had their concerns about me, (who wouldn't), but they never let on. They trusted Jon's judgment and made every effort to make me feel welcome, even buying me my favorite breakfast cereal!

It was really great to be there, see where Jon came from and get to know his family, but I was bored. Jon was working most days and I would help out where I could but there wasn't a lot for me to do. With the work shortage in Port Alberni I couldn't get a job either. I'd never experienced that before. I've always been able to get a job. I've worked, to some degree, since I was 11 years old. I had tons of experience and was confident, but no one was hiring. It was very depressing. Port Alberni is a depressing town at the best of times. Not having anything to do causes people to spiral in to depression. It is no wonder that it has one of the highest teen pregnancy rates per capita and a liquor store on every corner.

Just about a month in to our stay there "the shit hit the fan". Some fundamental dumb asses associated with Jon's church had been spying on Jon's blog writings for the past months. It is a very long and complicated story, but basically they were trying to get Jon's dad kicked out, who was the pastor of the church, through attacking Jon. Jon had written some stuff about living in the Smoking Section, which they believed was a house of debauchery and sin. He had written about going to Westminster Abbey and sitting, thinking and praying under the statue of the Virgin Mary, which they believed meant he was worshiping an idol. And the post that put things over the edge was when he was really upset about something that had happened with a friend and written about it using the word 'fuck' repeatedly. These holier-than-though people circulated the writings throughout the church before going to Jon, or even the elders, about it. One ass hole, in particular, planned to stand up and accuse Jon in the church service that Sunday. Thankfully, someone had the mind to put this to the attention of the elders before it got to that point. Because of the drama this was causing, Jon was asked to resign. He decided that was the best thing to do in order to limit the effect on his father, who was going to have to deal with these idiots when we went back to Abbotsford. We joke about it now, saying that Jon was excommunicated from his father's church, but it was a really horrible situation that I didn't fully understand. I wanted to go up to these people and mess them up! I sometimes still do! I'm not very passive in dealing with conflict.

Anyway, we returned to Abbotsford. Jon moved back in to the Smoking Section and I was homeless. I basically lived out of my suitcase for the next year. I stayed at my mom's home in Chilliwack part of the time, at my Grandparent's home in Abbotsford part of the time, and at Jon's place a lot of the time. I was the fifth room mate that earned my room and board by cleaning occasionally for them. (I was snowed in one day and decided to tackle the bathroom... it took me two whole hours to scrub the tub clean!) I wanted to be in Abbotsford since my job, boyfriend and life was there, but I didn't really want to get established with a new room mate and start paying rent when Jon and I were still talking about marriage, even though the actual marriage was on hold.

Defining Moments
The next few months were pretty hard for Jon and I. Jon had a bit of trouble finding a job and with that, on top of his experience at the church, he got pretty bummed out. His lack of motivation and employment really stressed me out. We had our biggest fight ever in those months and nearly broke up. It was such a sad and confusing time for both of us. We didn't talk for a couple days after the fight, but in the end, we realized we loved each other to much and wanted to work things out. We had a tearful and wonderful make up and things drastically improved after that!

My relationship with Jon had improved rapidly. After our near break up I think we realized that our love for each other over powered our desire to be right. That was a big revelation for two ridiculously stubborn people! We continued falling in love and growing up!

When Christmas came around EVERYONE was expecting Jon to propose. We had plans to go up to West Minster Abby in Mission for Christmas Eve Midnight Mass alone then after Christmas Day with my family we were going to spend 3 days with Jon's extended family. It would have been the perfect time to propose then announce it! I have to admit it I was rather frustrated and disappointed when he didn't. It made things worse for me because my mom and all of Jon's aunts checked my hand for a ring. Jon was, of course, completely oblivious to any of our expectations.

Life went on. I was then waitressing at Pizza Hut and Jon had gotten a horrible job at a soil plant. It was the WORST job in the world! He only worked there a few months thankfully, when he started at the "*^$& Shop". The wood shop has been good to him though! When March came around I was starting to feel a little unsure of our situation. We'd been dating for over a year and talking about marriage for nearly as long. After being disappointed at Christmas I was starting to question if we were actually going to get married. Now I'm not trying to blame Jon for all this. It was my own insecurities that had these thoughts running through my head.

So, we had a DTR (define the relationship) talk, figured some things out and ended up going ring shopping. We had been ring shopping a bunch of times before but this time we actually had some money! I ended up finding two that I liked... but one that I really wanted! I knew he had ordered it because he put down a deposit in front of me. It was all up to him to purpose now!

The Proposal
When Jon finally purposed he picked me up and we went out for dinner to my then favorite restaurant, Greek Islands. He meant to psyche me out. I'd always told him that if he purposed to me over dinner I would say no. I thought it was to cliche. We had a nice dinner and were on our way back to his place in Abby. On the "spur of the moment" he suggested we stop at the stargazers park off the highway, by number 3 road. When we got there he pulled out his guitar. I knew something was up at that point. We sat at a picnic table and he played some songs to me...just like he used to when we were first dating. Then he started playing "Green Eyes" by Coldplay. When the song was done he pretended to drop his pick and asked me to get him another one from in his guitar case. Instead of the pick, there was the ring box. When I opened it up the ring wasn't there. I stated as much and he pulled it out of his pocket. Jon gave me the ring but didn't say anything. I was getting teared up but did manage to point out that he hadn't actually asked me yet. He got the words out and of course I said yes. We went back to his apartment, hung out with the boys and all went out to Lou's Bar and Grill to celebrate! I was still shaking so much at Lou's, because of excitement and disbelief, that I spilled my drink twice!

This is where he proposed

Wedding Plans
Jon had proposed on March 23, 2004. March 24 the wedding planning started! We both (mostly me) wanted a summer wedding. Since Jon was planning to go back to school in September, the wedding was set for August, just over four months away. My first priority was getting a dress and finding a venue. In order to keep our planning running smoothly and in perspective we came up with four key words, two each, that every decision we made had to relate to some how. It helped us wean out the unnecessary expenses and details and keep perspective. The words were elegant, fun, community and cost efficient. Can you guess who chose which words?

I had read that some dresses take months to order in, so I was a little worried that I may not have enough time to find the right dress. I set up and coordinated all on one day a whole lot of dress finding appointments, one right after the other from Vancouver to New West to Surrey. I was determined to find my dress in one day because of the time crunch. In New West I found a dress way under budget! If I remember correctly it was only $550 with taxes. Sorry, I had to brag about that. My sister followed in my foot steps too. She had a bigger budget than me and found her dress for only $650!

Finding a venue was a little harder. We had the vision of a garden, coffee house themed wedding but no venues seemed to work out the way we wanted them to. I was getting quite distraught about it. My Grandma mentioned to me that my great-aunt Mary had volunteered their property. We went to see it and I LOVED it! Their whole top back yard, front and back, was gorgeous! Aunt Mary was a gardener and their home had once been a stop on those senior garden bus tours. It had a winding driveway (which uncle Dave said he had made after being inspired by Aunt Mary's curves!), lined with flowers and tall trees, and a gazebo. There was a top back yard that was immaculate but the bottom back yard was used as a fire pit and quite over grown. I had a vision though... With a little elbow grease it was going to be perfect! The whole bottom yard was canopied by tall trees, a stream ran along one side of it with a little bridge connecting the yard to their farm property. "All" we needed to do was rototil and lay some sod! I convinced Jon that we could do it and it wouldn't be too much work...hehehe.

We had some amazing friends and family that came to help us do the work. I think it took two full days to get all the sod down and get the wooden rail up on the hill that connected the top yard to the bottom yard. After all the hard labor was over Jon or I had to go to Aunt Mary and Uncle Dave's place to water the yard so the sod grew. It was a lot of work but well worth it! It looked INCREDIBLE! The ceremony was to be held in front of the bridge in the bottom yard, canopied by the gorgeous trees and the reception was on the top back yard. All the planning went quite well after that. I'm sure there were some tense moments between Jon and I but I don't remember them now. I think I was probably a little bit of a bridezilla in the end but on the whole I think I did pretty good. My family and friends might have a different opinion though...

The Wedding
The weekend of the wedding rain was pouring down! We had only ordered one tent for the reception so that the jazz band and electrical could be under cover along with a few tables. The weather network said it was going to pour up until early Sunday morning then turn HOT. With the wedding being on a Sunday, we had to decide on the Friday whether we wanted to order another tent. Another tent would cost over $800! I was absolutely confident that the weather networks predictions were correct. I said a firm no to the extra tent as I was completely convinced the weather was going to be gorgeous. Jon, my family and some friends were freaking out. I was getting calls from people who thought they could get their hands on tents for me. I said no to all of them.

Sunday morning came and it was gorgeous! The early morning was already so hot that the candles that we had laid out on the tables had started to droop! Jon had gotten up early because he couldn't sleep, and gone to do some last minute preparations. I slept pretty good. I did have to get up early for my hair to get done. The wedding was set to start at 6pm but we had pictures first. As a wedding guest I've always hated having a long break between a wedding and reception. What are the guests supposed to do all dressed up for two hours? It would have been extra inconvenient for the guests at my wedding because they had to park at the farm and walk or be shuttled to the house.

Pictures went really well, except that it was REALLY HOT! There are a few pictures of me holding my dress up with my arms and legs spread out trying to air off. I told everyone it wasn't going to rain! The only regret with pictures is that I didn't right down the family groupings that I wanted so we didn't get Jon and I together with each of our families. I know, it's a major one to forget. Oh well.

The ceremony started only about twenty minutes late. That's pretty typical for a wedding, right? Instead of renting chairs we utilized some hay bales from the farm and just covered them with some white broad cloth for the guests to sit on. Nelson Boschman, a professor of ours from CBC, played Be Thou My Vision on the keyboard for the procession. My boss from Pizza Hut, Kevin Woo, learned the hymn on the penny whistle for me so he could come in with the piano when I was ready to come down the hill. My brother walked me down the hill and my Grandpa took over to walk me down the aisle. I hugged my mom at the end of the aisle before walking up to Jon. I just remember smiling uncontrollably the whole time.

Our ceremony was really thought through. Jon and I had talked out every decision regarding every aspect of the ceremony. Every part of it had a meaning to us. It was on a Sunday because that was the Sabbath, God's day. Jon's Dad did the ceremony for us and did the homily from Ephesians 5:22- 33 "22Wives, submit to your husbands as to the Lord. 23For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything.25Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.29After all, no one ever hated his own body, but he feeds and cares for it, just as Christ does the church— 30for we are members of his body. 31"For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." 32This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." Jon always makes cracks now that I am to respect him and submit! Ha! That is not the point of this passage... although, sadly, many fundamentals use it that way.

Jon wrote our liturgical vows. We exchanged rings as a symbol of the "Eternal Love of the Father", we drank wine from the communion cup as a symbol of the "Co-suffering Love of the Son", and we anointed each other with oil as a symbol of the "Dynamic Love of the Spirit". Our ceremony was beautiful. We had some fun too. Jon, surprisingly couldn't wait and groped me half way through our vows! His story is that there was a bug on my dress that he was brushing away....sure, sure. It ended with everyone ringing little silver bells as a symbol of wishing us blessings.

One of the biggest and thought out decisions in regards to our ceremony was not to sign the papers to make us legally married. This caused some controversy. What caused us to start thinking about it was the fact that we were attending an Anglican church at the time that was closely involved in the issue of priests being forced to marry homosexual couples. Jon and I strongly believe that homosexual couples should have the exact same rights and privileges as a straight couple in the eyes of the government but should not be able to force religious groups to accept their lifestyle. The whole separation of Church and State thing. In the eyes of the government you would have the exact same rights claiming common-law as you would claiming married. We wanted our wedding day to be strictly God's day and have nothing to do with the government. I always hate seeing a government form being signed during a religious ceremony.

Understandably, some family members had some problems with our decision, particularly Jon's family. I understand that they would have some concerns. We were very young and I was from a divorced family. As a parent that would, for sure, set off some red flags... Was I just excited to have a wedding with out the commitment? Did I not have the same value for marriage because of my up bringing? Jon's family was much more religious than my family as well. So, I think the fact that we would be having sex with out be "married" was an issue as well. Those with concerns were really great with respecting our decisions though. I think because we thought about and talked about our decision so much we were and are more committed in our marriage. Divorce is so easy now days, we were taking the commitment that we were making very seriously and going in with our eyes open. I've been involved in weddings were they couple is only concerned with the party and sex part of it. They've figured the pastor will take care of the ceremony. I think that view is completely messed up and backwards. In the end, we did end up signing the papers with a Justice of the Peace a few months later. We only did it to make it easier for our family and, because Jon was in Theological studies, we thought not being legally married may jeopardize future employment in a religious business or company.

The party started immediately after the ceremony. We walked up the hill to "Then I Met You" by the Proclaimers. A hilarious surprise was that some friends of ours had laid out a bed at the top of the hill! Jon and I went off for about twenty minutes, with the photographer, to have a quiet moment to ourselves and take some pictures of just the two of us after the ceremony. Dennis, one of the groomsmen, was also the MC, got things going at the reception. We had a very laid back reception. There were a few tables for people to sit at, and hay bales. The wedding party and us sat on hay bales. We wanted a coffee house atmosphere where people could walk around and mingle, no set seating plan. We had Nelson Boschman's Jazz Trio playing and John and Diana Stewart catered finger foods and appetizers (they are amazing, by the way, and REALLY well priced!). The best part of the reception was our open coffee bar! Afterthoughts came did specialty coffee drinks the whole reception! The rest of the reception was pretty typical. In order to get us to kiss, guests had to tell a story about us, we had the typical speeches and my sisters surprised us with a Beatles song "When I'm 64". It was priceless.

Our life together officially started after that.

First Years
After the wedding we went for a short honeymoon in Whistler. It was nice. Even though I have always only lived a few hours from Whistler I had never been there and definitely not thought of it as a summer vacation spot. There was lots to do though. We ate, shopped, went up the mountain, went ATV riding.... and of course had sex :) For the amount of money we spent though, I do wish we had opted for an all-inclusive in Mexico. Hopefully we'll get to do that some day. We returned to life as best as we could. It seemed strange going back to the normalcy of everyday living when our hearts seemed to be bursting with the extravagance of being newly weds.

Our first home together was a little one bedroom apartment in a mediocre part of Abbotsford. It was clean and quiet. We looked out onto quite a pretty, tree and bush lined hill. We spent most of our first year of marriage there, getting to know each other better and learning to live with each others quirks. What seemed to be catastrophic issues at the time, in hindsight, were playground spats. I remember our biggest arguments being over the dishes and socks on the floor. It was definitely an adjustment learning to live together. It sometimes still is. We have realized that fights over dishes do not need that amount of energy though.

Jon was finishing up the last year of his BA in Biblical Studies at CBC, so he was in school full time. I was supporting him by waitressing at Pizza Hut. Not the most glamorous job but I was good at it and I didn't have to share tips! Waitresses make good money, but they need skills to do it well and they work hard.

We bought our first pet a few months in to our marriage. I think it was October. Jon had never had a pet because his family is allergic to fur. He was a little reluctant, probably due to the fact that we were not allowed pets in our apartment. I am a firm believer that every family home needs some sort of a pet though. Jon wouldn't concede to us getting a cat but he did get on board with the idea of a rabbit. So, we bought Pippin, a deceivingly adorable dwarf rabbit. Under all the cuteness he was the devil! He did not cuddle with us, even though he was litter box trained he still pooped in his various favorite corners of the home, he literally growled, bit and scratched us if we came to close to him and chewed up the corners of the walls! Jon was rather attached to him, I think because he was his first pet, but I was ready to let him be free.... hopefully to be hit by a car!

We decided to move to a better part of town after our neighbor went off of his meds, attacked the front door of the man living downstairs with a machete and barricaded himself in his apartment with his girlfriend. Jon, on his way to class, was greeted by a barricade of police officers in the hall, gun's drawn, calling "come out with your hands up!" It freaked me out, to say the least. We had already been talking about wanting to be in a two bedroom to be able to do respite anyway.

I think it was May 2005 when we moved to our home on George Ferguson way. It was a nice, ground level two bedroom within walking distance of our favorite produce store, Superstore, strip mall and shopping center. The location was perfect. I had an area that I could plant roses, lilies and daisies, and although we were on a busy street, it wasn't too loud. Our home became a bit of a hangout for friends because we did have the spare room for people to crash in and the location was so accessible. People didn't have to bother with getting buzzed in, they just used our sliding door. We had a lot of fun and good memories in that apartment.

Jon finally let me get the kitten I had longed for, since our new building allowed pets. Parker entered our little home and Pippin, our rabbit, didn't last much longer. He was destroying our apartment! The clincher for Jon was the damage that was caused to his books! No, I didn't release him on to George Ferguson way to play 'dodge the cars'. We gave the evil creature to a very nice, but very crazy, animal loving lady. She had converted her whole back yard in to a safe rabbit and guinea pig pen. Inside her small, trailer home she had two dogs, numerous cats, a few birds, and a rat! I'm sure Pippin was very loved and happy there... Yay! He was gone!!! Parker is a much more wonderful house pet.

As time went on I began realizing I didn't want to waitress my entire life so I began looking for other employment. We were already doing respite care one weekend a month for a young adult with special needs in our home. With all my experience in that field it was an obvious choice. I ended up dipping my hand in to numerous different opportunities. At one point I was working part time with a six year old girl who had very limited ability, part time with a very high functioning grumpy man, part time at Pizza Hut still and doing respite once a month. If it sounds like I was really busy, I was. But, I was young and could handle it! They were all very mundane, repetitive jobs so I was enjoying the fact that I had a different one to go to every day.

Jon had graduated with his Bachelors in Biblical Studies just before we moved to GF way. Since you can't do much with that degree besides go on to do a Masters, he decided to take a year off and work. So started his love/hate relationship with "The Shop". The Shop is a small custom wood shop where they make T molds and other precision hard wood flooring accessories. I wonder how many acres of the rain forest Jon is personally responsible for destroying. He had worked at The Shop for a few months and weeks over various holidays, here and there but never steady for such a long time. The Shop and his boss, Jake, has been good to us over the years. Jon is a good worker, so Jake has always been accommodating to Jon's schedule and needs, of course with a little/lot of Mennonite passive aggressive guilt and controlling direction thrown in.

I eventually got bored of my mundane jobs and decided to go full-time in to the field that I knew so well. I applied at both Bethesda and MCCSCS, but Bethesda got back to me first. I unfortunately accepted a full time position at one of their group homes for special needs adults. It is not a secret that from my year working for Bethesda I lost all respect that I had for that organization. I found major short comings and fault with the way they run their homes, manage and train their staff, safety procedures, and even the way administration is run at the head office. I would never recommend working for them, let alone even considering putting a family member in one of their group homes. I understand that my experience at the one home may have been extreme but if that is the case, where is the accountability. All right, I could go on for pages but if you want more details email me.

That 2006/07 year was a tough one for us. Because of the shottysafety standards at Bethesda I re injured my back twice in one year. I have a herniated disc from a basketball injury when I was 16 but it had been healthy and pain free for nearly three years. When it "goes out" I am completely incapacitated. I can't sit, stand, or lay down for any amount of time. The drugs I get put on leave me as high as a kite. When it is a very bad episode I am put onneuro-inhibitors along with the pain meds that leave me unfeeling. I am not even ticklish. Jon had started his Masters in Theology Studies at TWU in September 2006 so he was not working. Financially and emotionally, we were having trouble. Being who Jon is/was, (I think he has learned from this) he did not let anyone know how bad things were for him and did not get any help. I didn't realize how bad things were because I was so high! For four months, cumulatively, Jon had bore all the burden of house work and cooking, while doing full time Masters studies and caring for an incapacitated wife.

To make things worse a few days before Christmas that year we found out that we had to move by the end of February. The owner of the apartment building was upgrading it and selling off the units to individual owners. We first looked for apartments to rent but that time of year there was absolutely nothing available. I actually walked out of one place that was advertised as a two bedroom but the second bedroom was a folding door separating the living room for the dining room with chewed up curtains hanging in the windows. I cried. We began looking in to whether we would be able to buy a home.

Through the help of a loan, we were able to scrounge up a down payment and buy a condo. The emotional roller coaster of buying a house is very stressful. It was not made any easier by our mortgage broker. He was unprofessional, lost paper work and after telling us our financing was a done deal, he called us the day the offer stipulations were to be taken off and told us we couldn't do it. Long story short, we got an extension and got the financing. We moved on February 20th, 2007, in to our beautiful two bedroom apartment. We were so excited and proud.

I quit Bethesda finally, that spring and started at MCCSCS (now called Communitas). Their organization, like any organization, I'm sure has their faults but I have found very few. My sister works in another Communitas home as well and loves it. They respect their clients and actually hold their best interest and wishes above all else. The home I work at has all guy residents and mostly male clients...so no catty female gossip :)

In September 2007 I started at Fraser Valley High school... after getting asked to apply by a co-worker who creeped me on facebook. I continued working at Communitas one day a week until I was too tired and pregnant to work 6 days a week. Jon was continuing his Masters studies and slowly burning himself out. He hid that fact well.

We got pregnant in November 2007 after having talked about starting to try numerous times over the years. There was always a reason not too... finances, my back, not being ready. My back was a big concern for both of us. Would I be able to carry a child without throwing my back out? Thank God I was! It was incredible! We finally decided we shouldn't put it off too much longer and got pregnant nearly right away! I'm glad we waited as long as we did to experience life as a couple and try to get to know each other better. I honestly don't know how we would have survived this past year without having had that time together. How do couples do it who get pregnant right away? I'm sure we would be divorced by now if that had been the case for us.

We've been through a lot in our short years together, but I think we are stronger, better people because of it. That year held a lot for us to deal with. It was the most difficult time in our relationship and probably in our lives. In May 2008, when I was about 6 months pregnant, Jon was diagnosed with depression and had started on medication in June. Side effects were still getting worked out in July, I was eight months pregnant and we got the phone call around dinner time that Jon's Dad had had a massive heart attack and passed away. I had just come out of the shower and was brushing my teeth when Jon came and told me. I didn't believe him at first. For the most part, I think I have grieved my loss. He was the only father I had and he accepted me and never showed any judgment. I'm so thankful for that. Although I say that I have finished grieving, I will always miss Dad and be sad for what could have or should have been. He should be here to be Livi's Grandpa and support Jon as he figures out how to be a dad.

In August, one month to the day after Dad's death, we received one of the most amazing miracles of our lives. Our daughter was born. Even though being a parent is the hardest role someone can take on, it is also the most rewarding. I cannot put in to words how I felt that day. It was so spiritual, organic and inspiring.

November 4th was the last time I saw one of my sister for two years. She refused to have any contact with any of her siblings. It was even months before she had contact with our mom. This situation was one the hardest things I have had to deal with in my life. I couldn't make her come back to us. I couldn't make her be healthy. I couldn't fix things for everyone but I sure wished I could. I missed her terribly.

The 2008 Christmas season was rough because of Dad not being there and my sister not willing to work on things with us. I had prepared myself for and expected tension and emotion up to and through the holidays but I was not prepared for what happened after Christmas. Jon and I were in the worst place I could have imagined. We were angry, tension-filled and fighting all through the month of January. Coming down from the heightened emotions of Christmas wore on us and our relationship so hard that we even considered leaving each other for a while. Thankfully, we were both willing to work on things. We were both going to our own separate therapy and at the end of January we did some couples counseling. I learned a lot about myself in therapy. It did wonders for me and I am a better person because of it. Jon and I worked on things and continue to work at our relationship. It is worth the effort. I trust him a lot more and am able to let him have the space he needs... most of the time. He, in turn, is learning to be more open, involved, and communicative. We have both grown so much and changed a lot. We respect each other so much more now. 

March 2009 is when the whole fiasco with my job started. I was fired for unethical, back-handed, slimy reasons. I loved my job, so I was devastated. We had planned our next few years around me working there and then had to rework our entire plans. I am such a planner so this bump in the road was really hard for me to accept.

Financially, that year was been really rough too. The original plan was that we would live off of Jon's income and my EI earnings would go to pay off debt and in to savings. Jon had a student line of credit from the bank that was supposed to be able to be paid off by Christmas. When Jon had to take weeks off of work for grieving and the funeral, then one month later more time off for Livi's birth, we lost out on about $4000 worth of income. Then Jon had needed to take time off work because of stress and his depression and with the recession there had been a lack of work overall. 

Bouncing Back
We bounced back. As time went on Jon and I figured things out. At the end of 2009 Jon was hired at CLBC! A government job! It is still a miracle that he got this job and we are very thankful. He loves it and is good at it. He gets paid well, we have job security, medical, and a pension. We still have to live financially carefully, because we are on one income. Having one parent home with the kids is important to both of us and we understand that sacrifices have to be made to accomplish that. 

Since things were going so well in our lives we thought we'd add a curve ball at the beginning of 2010. Instead of getting pregnant again like a lot of our friends, we decided it was the right time to start the adoption we had dreamed of! The year and a half adoption process was hard, treacherous and filled with excitement and hope! It was so worth it. Our second daughter came home in August 2011 and is such a miracle! Sofie amazes us every day. 

We are so blessed to be where we are today. Jon and I are in love, we have respect for each other and we compliment each other. We have the two most wonderful girls! We are surrounded by supportive family and friends. I don't think we could ask for more. We are content.